GBBO is back! It’s CAKE WEEK!

Many of you UK peeps who love baking or love watching baking programmes, must be excited that The Great British Bake Off is back!  Yipppeeee!! I am definitely one of those people who have set the whole series on record and has told the whole household that Wednesdays from 8.00 – 9.00pm are booked out for GBBO excitement!🙂

All the contestants this year look very interesting but I am liking Rav Bansal already how likes Vegan Baking. Yeyyy!

Well the first week’s theme is just simply cakes and this year I thought I would try and bake along and also contribute to the themes with my own versions.  So to start here is my recipe for eggless Lemon Drizzle cakes/muffins. I love this recipe, especially during these summer months as they are light and refreshing and easy to take on days out and picnics.  

Love Suji x

#CookEatInspire #sujiskitchen

lemon drizzle muffins PM

Sometimes it’s just easier making smaller portions to ensure everyone has a piece or if you are short on time (the latter is usually what happens with me!). So muffins are an easy way to make your favourite cake in a cute package and this lemon drizzle flavour is a really simple one!

These can be Vegan if you are using Soya Milk, but you need to keep these in an air tight container to keep them soft and moist.

Makes 10 – 12 standard size muffins

What you need:

  • Plain Flour – 280g  / 2.5 cups (you can use Self raising flour but leave out the baking powder)
  • Baking powder – 2 teaspoons
  • Bicarb of soda – 1/2 teaspoons
  • Salt – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Caster sugar – 110g /1 cup
  • Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
  • Lemon juice – 2 tablespoons
  • Soya milk (or any other milk you prefer) – 150ml / 3/4 cup
  • Water – 90ml / 1/2 cup water
  • Vegetable oil – 90ml / 1/2 cup

For the drizzle:

  • Icing sugar – 60g / 1/2 cup
  • Lemon juice – 3 teaspoons
  • Grated lemon zest – 1/2 teaspoon

Optional: poppy seeds/chocolate chips

How to make it:

  1. Line your muffin tin with cases or oil & pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl and add the poppy seeds or chocolate chips if using
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together all the wet ingredients adding the lemon juice & zest at the end.
  4. Pour all of the wet ingredients in with the dry and combine well with wooden spoon. The batter should have a loose dropping consistency and you can add more milk if needed and don’t worry about any lumps in the batter.
  5. Fill the muffin cups 3/4’s full and bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops are slightly brown and spring back when pressed gently. Stir glaze ingredients together and drizzle over the hot muffins.

I’m drooling as I type out this recipe…..no joke!

lemon muffin

Next week’s theme is Biscuits, so happy baking until then!

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Filed under Baking, Desi, Food, GBBO, recipe, Snack, vegan, vegetarian

Summertime eats

Here’s a what I have been up to lately with my #CookEatInspire post. Thanks for reading all!

Suji x


COOK

During the summertime I tend to cook food that involves less time by the hob and more easy, light and refreshing dishes that suit the milder weather.  Although vegetable pulao is mostly cooked on the hob, I have used a good selection of veg here that can be pre-cooked in the microwave/steamer before adding to the pan, to make cooking time even quicker.  You can also use a Pressure Cooker, and I have mentioned the cooking times for that method below.

PulaoVeg

The first veg pulao was named ‘Rainbow Rice’ by niece and I have decided to name it this in honour of her and let’s face it, it sounds much more fun! The ‘Rainbow Rice’ recipe was one made for my niece and nephew so has little spice, but the other ‘Bulgar Pulao’ was made for adults and you will find a more typical Pulao recipe but replacing the traditional rice with Bulgar.  The cracked Bulgar wheat I find gives the dish different nutrients and more diabetic-friendly and I have tried this with other millets and quinoa too, which all give different textures.

Both Pulao1

Rainbow Rice (veg pulao for children)

Serves 2

  • Basmati Rice – 1 cup
  • Mixed Vegetables – 2 cups (I used a of beans, green bell peppers, red bell peppers, carrots and sweetcorn) – you need to use veg with different bright colours :-)
  • Onion- 1 medium sized, chopped finely (I sometimes use spring onions instead, for a milder flavour)
  • Chickpeas – a handful from a can (or you can use ones that you have cooked from dried)
  • Ginger – 1 inch piece
  • Garlic – 1 clove
  • Cinnamon – 1 inch piece
  • Cardamom – 1
  • Clove – 2
  • Bay leaf – 1
  • Cumin (Jeera) – 1 teaspoon
  • OIl- 1 tablespoon
  • Butter –  1 tablespoon (or veg oil if you want to keep it vegan)
  • Salt – as needed
  1. Soak the Basmati rice for at least an hour to ensure you get the correct texture. Peel and grind ginger, garlic, cinnamon with little water to fine paste. At this point, if you prefer to steam your mixed veg, you can do so now in the microwave or steamer.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the oil and then add the Cumin seeds, Cardamom, Clove and bay leaf. Then add the chopped onions and sautee until transparent. Add the ground ginger cinnamon garlic past, mix well and don’t let it burn.
  3. Add the vegetables and cook everything together on medium flame for about 5  mins. Then drain the rice and add to the pan and mix until well combined.
  4. Add salt, water and bring to a boil. Cook for about 12 – 14 mins until the rice and veg are cooked through. If using a pressure cooker you can cook for 2 whistles instead.
  5. Use a fork to fluff the pulao carefully and then finally add the butter (if using).  You could garnish with purple cabbage (cooked and chopped) for a further flurry of colour!

Enjoy seeing the faces on the children when you announce this as “Rainbow Rice”!🙂  Ok, so maybe the older children won’t be that excited… haa haa!  It will perfect to take away for picnics or other day outs and you won’t have to worry that your little ones haven’t had a good meal.

Try adding some cococnut milk when cooking the rice to give extra flavour and richness to the Pulao🙂

rainbow rice

Bulgar Wheat Pulao

I don’t use the pressure cooker for bulgar wheat as it can easily be overcooked so I find it easier to keep an eye on it

Serves 2

  • Bulgar wheat – 1 cup (I used the coarsely cracked bulgar wheat )
  • Mixed Vegetables – 2 cups (I usecoarse cracked bulgar wheatd a mixture of beans, green bell peppers, red bell peppers, carrots and sweetcorn
  • Onion- 1 medium sized, chopped finely
  • Chickpeas – a handful from a can (or you can use ones that you have cooked from dried)- I also add roasted tofu/seitan instead of chickpeas
  • Ginger – 1 inch piece
  • Garlic – 1 clove
  • Cinnamon – 1 inch piece
  • Green chillies – 2
  • Cardamom – 1
  • Clove – 2
  • Bay leaf – 1
  • Cumin (Jeera) – 1 teaspoon
  • OIl- 1 tablespoon
  • Butter –  1 tablespoon (or veg oil if you want to keep it vegan)
  • Salt – as needed
  1. Peel and grind ginger, garlic, green chillies, cinnamon with little water to fine paste. At this point, if you prefer to steam your mixed veg, you can do so now in the microwave or steamer.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the oil and then add the Cumin seeds, Cardamom, Clove and bay leaf. Then add the chopped onions and sautee until transparent. Add the ground ginger cinnamon garlic past, mix well and don’t let it burn.
  3. Add the vegetables and cook everything together on medium flame for about 5  mins. Then add the Bulgar wheat and mix until well combined.
  4. Add salt, water and bring to a boil. Cook for about 12 – 14 mins until the Bulgar and veg are cooked through.
  5. Use a fork to fluff the pulao carefully and then finally add the butter (if using) and you can also garnish with chopped coriander leaves and spring onions.

Bulgar Pulao


EAT

Want to try authentic Sri Lankan home cooked food? Then you NEED to follow Virundhu Supperclub! I was fortunate to finally make it to their third supperclub and I sure am glad I didn’t miss it this time! It was held in the very trendy, easily commutable, Docklands area and the venue had a gorgeous view of the Thames.

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The Supperclub is curated by the effervescent Ashanti Omkar who has done such an amazing job at coordinating the event and is a well known in the London Foodie circles ! The very talented Suhanya is the Chef who hails from such an interesting family of Keralan and Srilankan heritage and her passion for food definitely showed in the dishes she cooked for us! Her husband also helps behind the scenes and Suhanya’s sister, Veena, was the Host and Mixologist for the evening and is also a passionate foodie herself.

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There were about 10 guests in total and all were fabulous company, including the wonderful Chef Kanthi and his business partner from The Curry Leaf Cafe in Brighton (one of the next stops on my Food Bucket List!).  It was a hot day and the Cocktails (and the mocktail version) served by Veena were such a welcome refreshment! The passionfruit really stood out and frankly, I could have drunk a bucketful. Sluuuuurp!

To start off the Supperclub we were served some very moorish ‘Gundu Dosa’s’ which are just like the South Indian ‘Kuzhi Paniyaaram’. It was impressive to eat these with homemade tomato ketchup and Sambal (a typical Srilankan coconut chutney).  There were also some yummy cutlets which reminded me of one of my Aunties from Sri Lanka who often bought these to picnics when we were younger. You will definitely find cutlets of some sort in a Sri Lankan Picnic Basket!

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Gundu Thosai !!!!!

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I am not sure where to start with the main meal, as it was a typical Sri Lankan feast with so many curries to accompany the rice, as opposed to the rice being the star of the show.  Sri Lanka has amazing produce and Chef Suhanya had gone to great lengths to ensure the Virundhu Supperclub menu had fresh, good quality ingredients in all the dishes. Being a vegetarian, I cannot comment on the meat dishes that were served but the other guests definitely ‘ooed’ and ‘aaahed’ at all the non veg items and especially the fresh fish that Suhanya had sourced.  The highlights of our vegetarian feast were the Batu Moju (fried Aubergine) , the Mallung (Sri Lankan Kale, which is also known a ‘Ponnaangkaani Keerai’  in Tamil) and not forgetting the Del (Breadfruit) curry which in Tamil is ‘Eerapilaakkai’ and which I haven’t tasted in years! It’s not easy to buy really fresh Breadfruit in the Sri Lankan shops near me, so it was such a treat to taste this vegetable and Suhanya has prepared in such a delicate way so as not to overcook it and lose the amazing texture it has.  You can tell when the food is so delicious, when all of the guests become silent all of a sudden and you can just sense the pleasure that this food gives🙂

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I’m drooling as type this and revisit the photos, as I just want to have this meal all over again! There were SO many items on the menu and my photos and descriptions do not do them justice. Some tastes you just have to find out for yourself. You can tell the food is made from the heart and for me it was such a warm experience and I felt transported to one of our family homes in Sri Lanka.  The beautiful music collection chosen by Ashanti added to the lovely ambiance and my husband and I couldn’t help singing along to some of the classic Illayaraja tracks during the evening :-)  If you do get a chance to taste the food at Virundhu Supperclub , then I can tell you that you won’t be disappointed. It will be a ‘Virundhu’ (feast) for ALL your senses!

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Gundu Thosai !!!!!


INSPIRE

I am very excited to write about a very very talented person who is a continual inspiration to me both as a great food photographer and as a beautiful human being. She is the lovely Nessy Samuel.

 

 

For over a year her photography has dazzled me and continues to do so. As a food photographer and stylist Nessy has a great eye for beauty and can capture a view that you or I could have also seen, but not really focused on and so missed it’s highlight.  She definitely doesn’t miss the highlights and as a wonderful cook herself, she uses her own dishes as well as simple ingredients or lovely props in her shots.  Her website holds pictures of Still Life, Floral as well as Food. Simplicity in it’s most elegant form, is what I like to think of her style but in order to really see Nessy’s awesome work check out her stunning portfolio:  www. nessysamuelphotography.com/index.html

Nessy’s use of light, angles and composition of the photo’s are really awe-inspiring and it really brings out the best in what she is trying to capture. This photo below of Romanesco cauliflower is just stunning and you can get a great feel for the textures and colours with the background she’s chosen.

nessy2

Her talent does not stop here! She also has a great eye for the sights she experiences on her travels and her passion for natural beauty is what I admire most.  Nessy’s frames often look like famous paintings and I often feel like I am right there in the shot as well.  Nessy’s travel photography can be viewed here: https://www.instagram.com/wanderingoyster/  You will see what I mean and I hope she inspires you as much as she does me :-)

 

nessy3

This is a snapshot of Nessy’s inspiring Travel Instagram profile:  Wandering Oyster

 

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Filed under brunch, Desi, Dinner, Food, Lunch, supperclub, Travel, Uncategorized, vegan, vegetarian

May you be inspired!

What a foodtastic May has been! I feel like I haven’t been able to cope up with the plethora of foodie events going on at the moment. Eek! And as a result, this is a VERY delayed post …but a more concise one this time. I hope you like the different items in the #CookEatInspire elements of this blog post and do let me what know what you think abour these.🙂

Thank you! Suji x

 

 

Cook

Jackfruit Curry (Polos Curry)

polos curry

This curry is taken from one which I have eaten every time we go to Sri Lanka. Although I haven’t found suitable fresh jackfruit here in the U.K, the tinned jackfruit seems to work very nicely indeed! You do need to make sure you don’t buy the ripened jackfruit as that is a different variety and would give a completely different taste. The type I bought from my local Asian Supermarket is called “Green Jackfruit” and a picture is below.

PM jackfruit

This is my own recipe which I have simplified as I feel that in this case reducing the variety of spices brings out the flavour of the jackfruit. Traditionalists may disagree, but there’s only one way to find out🙂

Serves 2 people

What you need:

  • 1 can  Green Jack fruit
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 green chillies, sliced lengthways
  • 2 tsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tsp Srilankan curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3 tablespoons coconut milk/coconut powder
  • salt to taste

To temper:

  • Mustard seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of oil

How to make it:

  1.  Temper the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves in about 2 tablespoons of oil.
  2. Then add the onions, green chillies, ginger, garlic and  sautee until golden brown.
  3. Now add the curry powder and combine with the ingredients for about 30 seconds and then add the jackfruit, 2 tablespoons of water & salt.
  4. This next part is when you need some patience and some intuition. You need to cook the curry on a low flame until cooked. For me it took about 20 – 30 minutes and I used a heave bottomed pan and covered it with a lid. You may also need to add a little more water if it evaporates. You need the water to help cook the jackfruit.
  5. After the jackfruit is cooked through, add the coconut milk/coconut powder dissolved in water, and then cook for a further minutes.  Check the seasoning and then serve hot.

I like to serve this with red rice but it goes well with Roti’s too.

 

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Eat

Afternoon Chai with London Chai Party

I was very excited to be able to experience the wonderful food from the London Chai party ladies (Suchi, Gayathri and Nisha) at their Afternoon Chai event in East London! Having had their amazing 7 course Bing Bong Bengali feast, I knew I would be in for another treat for my palate. And boy, I wasn’t disappointed!

The venue was perfect for this afternoon event and the Afternoon Chai event definitely brightened up the grey day it had been so far.  It was refreshing to drink the Lychee and Tea Thumka that we were served when we arrived, wow, what a yummy concoction indeed and a great way to liven up my tastebuds for the treats ahead🙂

The lovely Gayathri introduced the event and talked about the background to all the different snacks and drinks.  I am trying hear to pick a favourite item, but I can’t! Each snack had it’s own unique flavour, like the spicy vada pav and the crispy Kuzhi paniyaaram and the sweet and spicy Bhakarwadi.  Oh my my my. I am salivating at the mere thought of these yummy snacks I consumed during the afternoon! All the girls were so passionate when you ask them about the thoughts behind the menu and their friendly demeanor and love of their food makes the whole experience so enjoyable and very different to other supperclubs and pop-up’s.

If you would like to know more about The London Chai Party team and their events then click here and if you want to know more about the Afternoon Chai party itself then do click here.

 

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Inspire

Chin’s Kitchen

Last month I went to the launch of Homebaked in London which provides a platform to connect very talented home bakers to foodies who are looking for delicious bakes. It’s as simple as that!

chin homebaked team

The Homebaked Team

PM chin hotel

At the event there was a very special baker who makes the most delicious and inspiring cakes and biscuits. She is none other than Chintal Kakaya from Chin’s Kitchen who makes cakes and treats with a unique indian twist.

PM chin stall

The lovely Chintal Kakaya and her DELICIOUS bakes :) 

Chintal has found a great niche in the market with her inventive flavours like ‘Gulab Jamun’ Cake, Chai Spiced Nankhatai and Indian spiced carrot cake with salted caramel (my personal fave). Her flavour combo’s are just genius! Chintal’s bakes are just so yummy, it really is hard to put into words! The different spices do come out clearly and they leave you wanting more and more. For more information check out Homebaked and Chintal’s own website with her full range of bakes Chin’s Kitchen.

PM chin cake

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Filed under Lunch, recipe, Snack, south indian, tamil, Uncategorized, vegetarian

The month of new years

I know January 1st is when the new year starts in much of the Western world, but April marks the start of the new year for a number of eastern cultures. The Thai new year “Songkran” is from 13th – 15th April and any festivities that last more than a day is a winner for me🙂 The Singhalese Buddhist as well as the Tamil & Keralan Hindu New Year is celebrated on 14th April and this is the date that my family celebrate our new year. Coincidentally, Sikhs celebrate ‘Vaisakh’ on the 14th too. Although this is not the Sikh new year, it is a celebration of the founding of the Khalsa, the collective body of baptised Sikhs created in 1699.  So basically it’s celebrations all round this month and a great way to #CookEatInspire🙂

 

COOK

So for the Thai New year I have my version of  Thai Green Curry.  This is my standard recipe that I have used for years but I don’t see any harm in using a good ready made paste from the shops if you just want to make this in a hurry. However I find most shop bought Thai Curry pastes don’t have enough of a spice kick and I often end up adding some spice anyway! So if you fancy using the Thai New Year to make this delicious curry here’s how it goes:

thai green curry PM

What you need:

  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 tbsp Thai green curry paste (you can use shop bought paste which are generally good, but I find these are not hot enough and not the right quantity)
  • 100 grams mushrooms cut into the same size chunks as the Tofu (I use the chestnut variety)
  • 200g of a mixture of other veg e.g. aubergine, broccoli, courgette, babycorn, green beans, peas, carrots
  • 200g of firm tofu – cut into bitesize chunks
  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • A dash of light soy sauce
  • a handful of basil leaves (Thai basil leaves if you can get them but other varieties are fine too)
  • A few fresh green chilies (optional)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt

How to make it:

  1. Crush the garlic and slice the green chilies.
  2. Heat the oil in a deep pot. Add the crushed garlic and fry till it turns light golden.
  3. Now add the curry paste. Saute on a low flame till the raw smell disappears. Now add all your veg and fry for 2-3 minutes, increasing the flame. Add a pinch of salt and let the mushrooms cook a little until they have released moisture.
  4. Now reduce the flame add the coconut milk. Season the curry with salt, sugar and a dash of soy sauce. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes and add the tofu. Let the curry cook for a few minutes.
  5. Taste and adjust the flavours according to your taste. Add some more sliced green chilies if needed. Let the curry simmer till the mushrooms are completely cooked. Make sure not to boil the curry as the coconut milk may curdle. Turn off the heat and throw in the fresh basil leaves.

Serve over hot rice, quinoa or noodles. I find this curry also goes well with Lotus Root Fry.

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For Tamil New year it is traditional to make a sweet dish as part of the celebrations and this usually comes in the form of either a type of ‘Paayasam’ or other sweets or ‘Mithai’. Those who know me well know I am not at all a sweet tooth and so I came up with something that wasn’t too sweet or with lots of Ghee oozing out of it and infact uses natural sweetening agents. Date & Pistachio Ladoo’s are really easy to make but you will need a food processor/blender (but not imperative) if you want to make it super quick. A sweet celebration without the guilt!🙂

1 PM

 

This makes x16 bite size Burfi balls or x8 bigger Burfi. (Yes I know there’s 15 in the photo, but there has to be a treat for the Chef you know!)

What you need:

  • 140g pitted dates
  • 30g pistachio nuts (other nuts can also be used like hazelnuts, walnuts, pecan)
  • 2 teaspoons Chia seeds (these can be omitted if you don’t have any to hand)
  • 2 to 3 Cardamom pods
  • 2 teaspoons Maple syrup (or you can also use honey if you are not Vegan)

How to make it:

  1. Put the nuts and Chia (if using) in the blender and blitz until you get the texture you want. I usually aim for a texture that’s not too fine and more coarse. (I sometimes take out some of the ground nuts at this point and use it for an extra coating at the end.)
  2. Then add the dates and maple syrup and blitz again until all ingredients are well combined. If the dates are really hard, you can soak them in hot water for about 30mins if you wish.
  3. Roll into your desired size balls.

You can also dip these in chocolate or dessicated coconut for a more decadent version!

3. Place the balls in individual cases if you have them. You don’t have to put them into cases but they look special if you do:-)

4. Place on a tray or plate and keep in the fridge to firm up a bit for about 15mins. You can also keep these in the fridge overnight or for a few days before you want to eat them. Just make sure you take them out about 30mins before serving so they aren’t too cold to eat.

I have previously added 2 tablespoons of Horlicks too to give these ladoo’s malty taste and I reduce the amount of Maple syrup to balance the sweetness in the Horlicks. Do try any other flavour combo’s that you think will work with these🙂

2 PM

 

 

EAT

I have been dying to tell you all about an amazing Supperclub that I went to recently!!!!!! (the silly number of exclamation marks show how excited I am!) It’s run by the lovely ladies at London Chai Party and they have been making delicious food together for a number of years now. Their latest Supperclub is called ‘The Big Bong Lunch‘ and is a humongous 7 course Bengali feast. Yes indeed. You did read that correctly. SEVEN COURSES! I could hardly walk after consuming this amazing feast, but it was worth it and I recommend you go to this Supperclub with a completely empty stomach and an ability to pace yourself during this gastronomic party. The dishes are from West Bengal and Suchi explained that they would typically be eaten during a big celebration like a wedding.

 

One of my favourite dishes was ‘Shukto’ which reminded me of the South Indian ‘Avial’ but of course was very distinct as the spices were very different to Avial but was very light and comprised of delicately cooked vegetables. I could have eaten a whole plateful of it!🙂 But of course I couldn’t because that would mean I missed out on the rest of the courses – no way! I would love to tell you about all the other courses but you really must try if for yourself and any further descriptions on my part would definitely spoil it. But take my word for it that you will not be disappointed. Each course has been cleverly thought out by the talented Suchi, Gayathri and Nisha and Suchi’s passion and love for her Bengali roots definitely comes through in the food. I really can’t wait for the next Supperclub by this amazing trio and their wonderful team!

If I have got you interested and drooling for more..then click on these links for their next exciting food events: The South Indian Brunch on Sunday 24th April and The Big bong Lunch (the next date TBC) and not forgetting the yummy delights at the Chai Party (sign up for future dates). And if you are in the Sutton Area the London Chai party team will be at the Pop Up Market there on these dates:

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Thanks to a dear friend of mine, I learnt a few weeks ago was that there is a vegan & vegetarian PUB in central london! I know ! My eyebrows lifted quite high too when my lovely friend told me about it! So one rainy day in Soho, my friend took me to this quaint pub called The Coach and Horses which was easy to find at the end of Greek Street in Soho. The restaurant has a weird entrance inside the middle of the pub, but once you are upstairs you can’t hear the ruckus downstairs and you enter a serene ‘living room-like’ restaurant. It has quirky interior decor which makes it even more endearing and my friend and I eye-up the vegan cakes as we are taken to our seats (i am so going there for afternoon tea!).

Apologies for the poor quality photos below, but it was taken with my phone in dim lighting.

The menu is seasonal apparently, but all I needed was comfort from life that evening so I shared a delicous French onion soup with my friend and then delved into some wholesome ‘Tofush & Chips’.

Delicious French Onion Soup

Tofush and Chips

The Tofush and Chips which I haven’t eaten before was quite satisfying but I felt it did lack seasoning and I think next time I’ll try out the Celeriac, Chesnut & Parsnip Sausages that my wise friend ordered🙂  Deeeelish!!!!

With our tummies full but still yearning for that sweet kick at the end of our meal, we ordered the Chocolate and Walnut Brownie with Vanilla Ice cream and Chocolate sauce. Wow, it definitely hit the spot and I would highly recommend it! I loved the mixture of soft and crunchy and it was impressive to hear that they make their own ice cream ..nom nom nom.

It’s commendable that they mixture of both vegan and veggie choices on this menu, but for fans of Tea & Coffee, I’m afraid they don’t serve hot drinks for dinner. I was SO disappointed to say the least. No hot drinks for dinner? What is that about?!?!? When I questioned this, our waitress said that they turn off their big water heater after tea time and it takes too long to turn on again. Haa ha haaa!! Haven’t they heard of kettles? I hope they really change this restriction as there is nothing like a hot cuppa after a satisfying meal. But I am definitely coming back to sample more of this menu and especially the vegan cakes (AND TEA!) that I couldn’t fit in during this first visit🙂

I have explored plenty of other eateries in and around London so watch this space for more reviews and recommendations🙂

 

INSPIRE

Something that has inspired me this last month is a beautiful food blog by the very talented Rekha Shivakumar. Resh Kitchen has a variety of delicious vegetarian recipes and contains very easy to follow instructions and needless to say, lots of droolworthy photos! I think the great thing about Rekha’s recipes are that they are kept simple – nothing crazy or over-the-top. It is simply, delicious ingredients cooked to perfection for her love of food! Having grown up in a Tamil Brahmin family, she has the richness of this culture in her dishes and her recipes are also taken from all around India as well as other parts of the world. You can tell she cooks from the heart and do sign up to her blog to ensure you don’t miss her yummy recipes and she’s also on Twitter , Pinterest and is so popular on Instagram too!  Do check out her latest reviews and recipes!

rekha

I am lucky to know Rekha and I often explore restaurants and pop-ups around London with her, the very talented Nessy (follow her for the release of STUNNING photos in her upcoming portfolio!) and other foodie friends. Recently we went to Borough Market in London Bridge and check out Rekha’s post on our visit to Pulia .

 

I am inspired especially by those who are wonderful food photographers and I can tell you more about these fab people in my next posts…I hope you will be amazed as I am by their talent!

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Another read that has inspired me is the new FREE food mag! It’s called ‘Foodism‘ (I totally love the name!) and has lots of fab articles about restaurants, the latest food fad, great chef’s and not forgetting the amazing pop-up’s that are taking London by storm.  You can sign up to find out when exactly the magazine is published but at the moment it’s going to be every other month. And you don’t have to be in London to read it (brilliant!), you just register your details on line and you can read it digitally. Very environmentally friendly!

I got my copy! Have you??

I picked my copy up on the way back from London last week and I loved reading about Tomasina Mier’s new venture, a yummy Apple Tatin recipe, some intriguing restaurants and there’s lots of competitions too. And this is just a fraction of what’s in it! I still can’t quite believe it’s free and I’m looking forward to what’s in store in the next issue🙂

 *  *  *

Finally, to finish my post I wanted to bring you to the attention to this hilarious #tambrahm website called We Are Tambrahm.🙂 For those of you new to the term #tambrahm, it’s short for ‘Tamil Brahmin’ – a tamil person who has been born into the caste of ‘Barhmin’s’ originating from Tamil Nadu. Now many disagree with using this term at all in this current time, but you cannot deny the amazing FOOD that is attached to this label.  This type of food is what I grew up with and that has inspired my blog and love of food and it’s part of my identity.

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The ‘We Are Tambrahm’ Instagram page

So this forum We Are Tambrahm is a great site for typical #tambrahm quotes, sayings, traditions and of course…food!  You have to read it to get what I am saying and there are some great writers out there who contribute to this community blog. They are also on Twitter , Facebook and Instagram…yeyyy!  Look forward to reading more and I am sure lots of TamBrahms out there are already preparing their Paayasams and Vadai’s for the “Puthaandu” (New Year) celebrations this week!

 So..here’s wishing a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR to all those who are celebrating and watch this space for more #CookEatInspire posts🙂

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Filed under Food, food festivals, TamBrahm, tamil, Uncategorized, vegan, vegetarian

Finally something worth posting about!

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Me being silly with the Hippo face oven glove🙂 (I need to get me some!)

My Kitchen Adventures is BACK! (I hope you’ve missed me🙂 )

It’s been quite a few months since I last posted on here and it is really nice to be writing again :-) So what’s new you ask? Well, I’m going to try out a new format for my posts which will reflect my food blog motto that I use all the time on Instagram and often on Twitter and Facebook too:

#CookEatInspire

My posts are now going to be monthly with some juicy new recipes and food talk and I thought it would be nice to incorporate my little motto #CookEatInspire in the following way:

Cook

This section will include either recipes of my own or from others and will be based on whatever has inspired me at the time.  I get inspired very easily when it comes to food, so if you have any suggestions or requests then please do comment at the bottom of this post. Thank you! Thank you!  ♥

Eat

This will feature places that I have eaten at during the past month or so. They will mostly be restaurants, pop-ups or supperclubs, but maybe about a meal I have had at a friends or family members house. I am very thankful to be surrounded some very talented cooks and I can’t wait to tell you about some great dishes that will blow your tastebuds away! There are soooooo many nice meals that I have eaten that are made by others, so it seems criminal not to be sharing them with you🙂 Is there a great restaurant or pop-up you would recommend? Then please do let me know!🙂  Are you on Instagram? Then come and join me on my page where you can see what I have been up to lately and hopefully you’ll like the foodie pics too🙂

Inspire

In this last section of my posts, I hope to inspire you with foodies that have inspired me! This section maybe about articles related to food and nutrition, food bloggers, organisations or just anyone who has given me inspiration and pause for thought. OMG there is so much going on out there!!!

So my first new format post is coming out very soon so watch this space! Thank you so much to all of you who continue to support my (sometimes crazy!) food adventures and I am excited about this new chapter………

Suji x

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Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpea warm Salad – adapted from Simply Nigella

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This recipe is originally from the ‘Simply Nigella‘ series and I loved the way that it could be made into a light dinner or lunch, or as an accompaniment to Cous cous like I have done in my recipe.  It’s such a great way to use cauliflower and chickpeas together! You can find Nigella’s fab recipe here.  

I have used the same main ingredients as in the original recipe, but I rarely have that much spare parsley which gives a great colour contrast to this dish. So I have used steamed green beans to inject that fresh green hue running through it and for added nutrients. Instead of the usual Harissa paste, I have used Rose Harissa by Belazu which gives a gorgeous scent as well as flavour and the cauliflower and chickpeas absorb this flavour really well!

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These are my adaptations to the original ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp Rapeseed or Vegetable oil (I find these better than Olive oil for roasting veg)

  • 1 tsp Nigella (Kalonji) seeds
  • 2 tbsp Belazu rose harissa , to taste

  • 100g steamed fine beans

  • A handful of chopped parsley (rather than a large bunch)

  • 1 packet of Halloumi, grilled or roasted

How to make it:

I used the same method as Nigella except I added the steamed beans at the end and gave everything a good stir and I served this with Lemon cous cous .  I also found I had to roast the cauliflower for a little longer, so it ended up being for 25 minutes for the initial roast instead of 15 minutes as stated in the original recipe.

The pomegranate seeds give a lovely sweet ‘zing’ to the dish which really balances out all the flavours. You’ll know what I mean when you taste it🙂  I think these are integral to the dish and perhaps would be hard to replace.

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I would love to know if you try out Nigella’s recipe and if you use any alternative ingredients! I’d love to get your feedback so please do comment in the box below.

Thank you, Suji x

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Artisan Bread baking at Ann’s Smart School of Cookery

I am very lucky indeed to have foodie friends and even luckier to be gifted a cooking class for my birthday this year! The lovely Dharani and I went on a baking class at Ann’s Smart school of Cookery and this class was held at their branch in St Katherine’s Docks in London. It was a dreary day in London so it was nice to walk into a cookery class which starts with the enticing smell of yeast! It’s a small venue but just enough to fit in the 20 people who signed up and a great long industrial kitchen tables for us to sit around.

The class started off with an introduction with our Tutor, Stuart, who was very charming and explained the plan for the day. It was interesting to learn a different type of making a standard dough which involves adding the flour to the liquid and not the other way around. It was a revelation for me and I am looking forward to trying it out for myself at home! We started off with the Brioche and the dough was given to a pair of participants who very ably used this ‘introverted technique’ of bread kneading and the ingredients put into this enriched dough had such an amazing aroma! YUM! Surprisingly the same basic dough was used to make all of the breads, with adjustments only made for any added ingredients e.g. herbs, spices and olives for the Foccacia.

Some of the different breads made by various participants on the class.

Some of the different breads made by various participants on the class.

Myself and Dharani had the awkward task of making 30 identical crostini’s. It was arduous work and mine were so untidy compared to the lovely ones Dharani made! However it was worth it in the end and they were so yummy with the different dips we had to sample them with.

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Crostini’s in progress!

Me being silly with the Hippo face oven glove :-) (I need to get me some!)

Me being silly with the Hippo face oven glove🙂 (I need to get me some!)

Dharani's perfectly shaped Crostini's <3

Dharani’s perfectly shaped Crostini’s❤

The other participants on the class that day had other types of bread to make; pizza, cob, foccacia and seeded rolls.  It was amazing to see such soft bakes turn out so well with very little time for proving. But I guess that’s what happens when you have a bread making class for only 2.5 hours!

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Foccacia

Check out the air bubbles in this soft and pillowy Foccacia!

Check out the air bubbles in this soft and pillowy Foccacia!

Tear n Share rolls. I want to try out those saffron rolls - beautiful colour!

Tear n Share rolls. I want to try out those saffron rolls – beautiful colour!

What the course details do not explain on the website is how much of the baking we will be doing ourselves and I think that it something that I would have liked to know beforehand. In my opinion this class is for beginners to baking or for those who would like to be inspired. If you bake often and are seeking specialty bakes, then perhaps this is not the class for you. However, the school has many different types of classes and you can book here. 

This pizza was DELISH!

This pizza was DELISH!

Thank you to Stuart and the school for our bread-tastic day! It has definitely inspired me to experiment with different types of bread to provide much needed comfort during this cold season.  Dharani, I couldn’t have experienced this class without you, so a huge thanks and for taking some of these photos:-)

I have yet to experiment with the techniques that I learnt on the class, so watch this space for new bread recipes! But click HERE for my classic white loaf recipe that I use very often and can be adapted with different ingredients.

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Filed under bread, brunch, cooking class, Dinner, Food, vegetarian

The Tilda® Basmati Supperclub by Mallika Basu

I was very honoured to have been invited to a Tilda® Basmati Supper Club earlier this year hosted by the very talented chef Mallika Basu. It was a wonderful evening at The Little Yellow Door venue in Notting Hill and it was great to meet some fabulous foodies to share the food made by the awesome Mallika Basu.

The wonderful decor at The Little Yellow Door

The wonderful decor at The Little Yellow Door

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I was very inspired by Mallika’s menu which included a Chana Dal Khichri made with Brown Basmati. The brown rice gave it a lovely nutty flavour and I always enjoy the texture that Brown Basmati gives to a dish.

Delicious Khichri with Tilda Brown Basmati

Delicious Khichri with Tilda Brown Basmati

I enjoyed the Khichri with a fragrant and creamy paneer dish, a fabulous aubergine curry which used peanut butter (amazing!!) and a tangy, bright beetroot Raita. It was a feast for the eyes aswell as the tummy!🙂

The other vegetarian rice dishes which were all made using different varieties of Tilda® Basmati Rice were South Indian Uthappams and Saffron Cardomum Kheer. Mallika was very clever in her use of rice and lentils (Urad Dal) for a short soak instead of the long fermentation process that is usually adopted for traditional Uthappam recipes.  The Kheer also made excellent use of Saffron and Cardomum to give this dish a traditional taste but in half the time if you use a pack of readymade Tilda® Steamed Basmati Rice.  Genius! The desserts were a sweet end to the supper and hats off to Mallika for all her inspired dishes!

Sweet and decadent Phirni and Kheer...yummm!

Sweet and decadent Phirni and Kheer…yummm!

It was so nice to meet other foodie friends Binny, Gayatri ,Chintal and Suchismita and you can read a great account of the evening and how Mallika inspired all the guests with her recipes at Binny’s Kitchen and Mummy & Me.

The wonderful food made by Mallika really inspired me to try out some of the yummy bags of rice we were given to experiment with by Tilda® Basmati and I wanted to try out a stir fry recipe using the new Tilda® Limited Edition
Firecracker Steamed Basmati Rice. I could’nt think of a better way than adding crunchy vegetables to a flavour packed pouch of this Firecracker rice and I hope you like it as much as I did!

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What you need:

  • 1 pack of Tilda® Limited Edition Firecracker Steamed Basmati Rice
  • 1tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 50g mushrooms, sliced
  • 50g Broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1 spring onion, the white section sliced finely and the green section sliced lengthways for garnish
  • Soy sauce, to season
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
  • OPTIONAL: dried red chilli flakes or ground Szechuan pepper

How you make it:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan or a wok and then add the ginger and garlic and stir fry for about 2 minutes or until soft.
  2. Add the mushrooms, broccoli and peppers and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly so all the veg are cooked through.
  3. Add any optional spice (Chinese 5 spice, red chillies or Szechuan pepper) and then the pack of Tilda® Limited Edition Firecracker Steamed Basmati Rice and cook for four minutes.
  4. Drizzle with soy sauce and garnish with sliced spring onion.

Best enjoyed if you gobble it up immediately!

RicenSpice PM1

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Filed under Chinese, Desi, Dinner, Food, indian, Lunch, recipe, vegetarian

The Festival of Lights 2015

Happy Deepavali/Diwali to all of you who are celebrating this bright festival today! This post is dedicated to those of us who lve this festival but don’t always have time to prepare things in advance.

Here’s a Diwali Burfi recipe you can whip up in minutes with just a few ingredients!

May I take this opportunity to thank all of you who’ve supported me with this blog so far& here’s to more good food, health & happiness for the year ahead! ❤

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These are such cute little sweets to make for Diwali and I bet your guests won’t realise how healthy they are! These are a great way to add in Chia seeds which are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and a great way to make this sweet a healthy one! The dates and nuts of course have lots of great nutrients and the addition of maple syrup here makes it a perfect vegan treat too. If you are not vegan then feel free to add honey instead. Just try out with things that you like and you can also vary the ingredients below according to your desired texture and taste.

This makes x16 bite size Burfi balls or x8 bigger Burfi.

What you need:

  • 140g pitted dates
  • 30g pistachio nuts (other nuts can also be used like hazelnuts, walnuts, pecan)
  • 2 teaspoons Chia seeds (these can be omitted if you don’t have any to hand)
  • 2 to 3 Cardamom pods
  • 2 teaspoons Maple syrup (or honey if you are not Vegan)
  • Dessicated coconut – enough to coat the Burfi balls

How to make it:

  1. Put all ingredients (apart from coconut) in a food processor/grinder and blitz until you get a coarse mixture.
  2. Roll into your desired size balls. I then took half the balls then coated them with unsweetened dessicated coconut and left the other half without any topping.

You can also dip these in chocolate for a more decadent version!

3. Place the balls in individual cases if you have them. You don’t have to put them into cases but they look special if you do🙂

4. Place on a tray or plate and keep in the fridge to firm up a bit for about 15mins. You can also keep these in the fridge overnight or for a few days before you want to eat them. Just make sure you take them out about 30mins before serving so they aren’t too cold to eat.

ENJOy!🙂

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The 9 day Festival and more

Hello All! I haven’t posted in a long while,but  I can finally fill you in on some, let’s say, pious activities from my end.  :-) My family and I have recently finished celebrating the 9 day religious festival of Navarathri. For those of you not familiar with this Hindu festival, it celebrates the Mother and the 3 Goddesses: Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi. The 9 days are split into equal days to celebrate each of the 3 Goddesses and the 10th Day is known as Vijayadasami or Dussera.  Within the Tamil population from India and Sri Lanka, and especially in the’ TamBrahm’ communities, it is custom to have decorative steps in the house. These are adorned with small idols, flowers, lights, ornaments, dolls and sometimes toys which celebrate the different aspects of beings on earth and the Gods, but showing essentially that the Almighty resides in all.  Well that’s what I believe is the interpretation, but I am sure there are other aspects and more knowledgeable people about this tradition will be able to give more detail on its significance.  In the Tamil language the decorated steps are called a “Golu” and here is our one:

Golu

During this festival, like most, there are particular food that are linked to it.  There is always a different food offering, which is called “Neivedhyam” in tamil, for each day of Navarathri. This offering is blessed during the pooja each day and then distributed to those who have attended the ceremony. There is a neivedhyam theme of “Sundal” which is a dry, savoury dish that is essentially some kind of pulse or bean with tempered spices and grated coconut.  The spices can vary but it’s a very healthy dish if it has the least amount of oil used and enables the natural flavours of the pulses and beans to come through.  There are also sweets and “payasam” that can be offered during the religious ceremonies or just made as part of the celebration.  Here’s my “Sundal” recipe which can be modified with your favourite pulse or bean and many people enjoy eating this on other days, as well as Navarathri, for a healthy and satisfying snack.

Beans sundal 2

Although Navarathri is over for this year, it’s exciting to know that Diwali, or “Deepavali” as we call it in Tamil, is just a few days away now.  This is of course a huge occasion among most Hindus and it’s a dream of mine to experience this vibrant festival in India. So again there are very special treats involved in Diwali, but as a child I used to hate the sickly Indian sweets that we were given.  I am not a sweet tooth so I have a recipe for a delicious sweet to make for Diwali which is less in sugar than most Indian Mithai/sweets but also healthy! It involves no cane sugar and can be made in a minutes if you have some kind of food processor/mixie.  I kid you not! Here is the recipe for my Diwali Dates Burfi.

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So for those who celebrate this upcoming festival, here’s wishing you a VERY HAPPY DIWALI!   Suji x

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Filed under Food, food festivals, indian, recipe, south indian, Uncategorized, vegan, vegetarian